In "A Rose for Emily," William Faulkner takes us back to an era where the "Old South" is still dominated by patriarchal views and ruled by time honored traditions. Oppressed by the memories of a domineering father and the expectations of the townspeople of Jefferson, Mississippi to fulfill her role as a true southern "lady", Emily Grierson defies society's beliefs, concerning predictable female conduct, and commits the unthinkable act of murder.
Emily's father plays an important part in shaping Emily's perception of what is acceptable female behavior. At a young age he teaches Emily that the man is always in charge. He convinces Emily that no man is good enough for her. Keeping Emily away from possible mates insures him that she will be his forever. The townspeople thought of Emily and her father as a "tableau"; "Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door" (Faulkner 428). Judith Fetterley asserts, "The violence of this consuming relationship is made explicit in the imagery of the tableau" (454). She adds:.
Although the violence is apparently directed outward--the upraised horsewhip .
against the would-be suitor--the real object of it is the woman-daughter forced.
into the background and dominated by the phallic figure of the spraddled father .
whose back is turned on her and who prevents her from getting out at the same .
time that he prevents them from getting in ( Fetterley 454).
Upon her father's death Emily continues to be oppressed by patriarchal convention when Colonel Sartoris, the town's mayor, tries to save Emily from embarrassment by remitting her taxes; "Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily's father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying" (Faulkner 426).